My interest in worship music traces all the way back to age twelve, when I started playing piano in my father's church. Since it was a Pentecostal church, we sang a lot, which made for great on-the-job training. We sang many songs without music and I was encouraged to play by ear and learn to improvise. This was called "playing in the Spirit" - and much of the time it truly was! While I also took piano lessons and learned classical music, that seemed like a different world: the two didn't seem to intersect in any way. Over time, I started to see how the two approaches could inform each other and I grew to love both "kinds" of music.
While I was always arranging and adapting music, I didn't start to write songs consistently until my children were in High School and I had some "alone" time. I had trouble finding music for worship that was consistent with our theology and yet had a more contemporary feel, so I began to write music along three lines:
• Hymns. Old hymns are a rich treasure trove of beautiful theological truth, yet the tunes often seem dated and stodgy. I take inspiration from hymns and write new tunes and, in many cases, update the words. A lot of people are doing this now, but I didn't know of many when I started doing it.
• Psalms. I also wanted to internalize the Psalms: to sing not just bits and snatches, but through the entire Psalm. This is a practice that I think has been lost in our churches.
• New songs. I also write songs from scratch, both words and music. Many times these are to complement my husband's preaching.
For me, writing worship music is an act of worship in itself, as it says in Colossians 3:16:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."For the Christian, music is not optional, it is central. I want to be faithful to my call as a church musician, to serve the church and bring fruitful praise to the throne of God. There is always room for more praise, as our God is infinitely praiseworthy!